Guest Post: Top 6 Lessons From BookExpo America You Need To Know NOW

Today, would like to welcome Rachel from Bad RedHead Media with an awesome recap of the crazy flurry of activity that was BEA last week.  Rachel is not only a great writer, but is smart about social media.  I definitely think you should get her working on book stuff for you right away, and you’ll find all of her contact info below to go over there, start following her, and engage her services right now if not sooner.

Take it away, Rachel!

After attending BEA12 last week, I came away with a head for knowledge and a bod for…

Wait a minute. I’m not Melanie Griffith and this isn’t Working Girl (and I’m clearly not a tall, leggy blonde).

But wait. I AM a working girl, and I went to BEA12 to learn stuff. Which I did. Stuff that applies to my work as a published author and blogger, and stuff that applies to my work as a social media consultant.


If you’re any of those things, also, here’s the stuff that applies to you:

1) Where’s The Digital? Publishing is still very much stuck in the traditional model. This is probably no surprise to anyone, but many of us at BEA12 felt that digital would have more of an impact on how they ran things.

For example, the book signings were still long lines of people waiting to have the author sign their book. Their paperback book. While the amazing app Autography LLC (and I applaud them and encourage all authors and publishers to check them out) was there holding digital signings for eBooks, it was infinitesimal compared to paper.

This makes no sense to me. Why can’t I simply scan a QR or barcode to download the book? Take a pic with the author and have it sent to my iPhone/Kindle/iPad? People were walking around with suitcases filled with

What is this…2012?

People buy eBooks because it’s convenient and less expensive than paper, not to mention greener. No eBook? You are missing out on sales.

2) Discoverability and Authenticity: Many of the panel discussions were about discoverability. Meaning, how can we as authors best show people where to find us? Of course, social media is key.

The second component of that is authenticity – are you employing a one-way only, automated, broadcast model to your social media? It shows.

But it’s more than just being on a bunch of different channels. It’s the buzz you create that makes you discoverable. Think beyond self-promotion in a traditional sense. Blogging, reviews, interviews, guest blogging, YouTube along with your social media – it all goes into the mix.

Readers want to interact with authors. Find out about us. Learn what inspired us to write our story. This is how you can best use social media. What I teach my clients and recommend in my own posts is to engage with people. What does that mean to you?

I’ve thrown out a lot of terms here but it’s not rocket science: a vibrant social media platform takes work yet clearly pays off.

3) Branding: No matter if you’re indie or traditional, you need to embrace branding and understand how that applies to you and your book. Crazy stuff like SEO, metadata, Google ranking – all depend on it. Even if you don’t understand what that means or how all that fits together, you will. You have to know who you are so your readers will know how to discover you (see how this all works?).

Choose your keywords; focus your message around them. This is still you being your authentic self, just more focused.

As an example, I write nonfiction essays about men, women, love, relationships, sex, and loss. I’m a humorist. I’m a social media consultant. I also love coffee, Nutella and vodka martinis. This is what you will see in my blogs, Facebook messages, tweets, Pinterest, Instagram and on and on.

As I’m transitioning into more serious subjects for my third book, Broken Pieces (due late summer), I’ve started sharing more personal stories of love and loss, as well as hosting guests who do the same.

4) Promote others: The days of pure self-promotion are gone (were they ever truly here?). People are tired of being spammed on Twitter and Facebook, not to mention email, with links to cheap or free books. This does not make you unique. It just makes you annoying.

Simply spamming your book links over and over is not only against Twitter’s TOS (terms of service) regarding spamming (tweets should be primarily personal updates), but can create backlash and blocking.

This goes back to knowing your demographic: where are your readers? If you mostly follow and are followed by other authors – and are constantly linking to your book in your tweets and messages — aren’t you kinda wasting your
(and our) time?

Which isn’t to say the author/writing community isn’t amazing and supportive of each other. We are. Promoting other authors, small businesses, info or resources … whatever – this helps you create a viable feed. Otherwise,
just automate your self-promo links and be done with it.

5) Amazon: I’m a fan. As a reader, they’ve got it down. As an author, they have built the better mousetrap.

I’m a fan of KDP Select. I’m an advocate of Amazon, digital, eBooks, Kindle – it’s been great for my career. To date, I’ve sold over 14,000 books with over 85K free downloads to date. According to Kindle Nation Daily, anywhere from 3-5K books go free everyday.


How do we differentiate ourselves?

I was fortunate enough to hear Lori Culwell speak about book marketing. Follow her. She’s a genius. (Side note: Awwww, thanks Rachel!) I’ve downloaded her book How to Market A Book and it’s an excellent guide for anyone, newbie or not.

Doesn’t matter if you’re for or against Amazon’s model – they are amazon.

6) Indie vs. Traditional: I listened to a panel of young publishing interns who referred to Indie (or self) as ‘the slush pile.’ They see big futures for themselves in traditional publishing and that’s great.

I’m not so sure.

Not because they’re not well-educated, young and bright. Not at all. It’s that publishing is changing radically, and to dismiss quality writing as slush is almost embarrassing. I actually cringed a bit as I heard them spout decades-
old values.

What’s missing? I, like many of my fellow indie authors, are making decent bank. We’ve worked hard to put out quality product, using professionals: editors, proofreaders, formatters, graphic artists. Agents shop Twitter for us.

When I read recently (on a literary blog) that indies are simply publishing their shopping lists and calling it a book, I wasn’t surprised.

Disappointed, but not surprised.

Whatever your stance, know this: self-publishing is here to stay. There’s a right way and a wrong way, but it’s still a way. Do your best! There’s no way to have a bestseller if your product is sub-par.

That covers the main messages I gleaned from my experience. I wish I could’ve been in two places at once: BlogWorld was happening at the same time. Maybe next year…

Did you attend? What are your takeaways? What have I missed? I look forward to your comments below!


Rachel Thompson aka RachelintheOC is a published author and social media consultant. Her two books, A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed are both #1 Kindle bestsellers! When not writing, she helps authors and other professionals with branding and social media for her company, BadRedhead Media. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. Buy Now : A Walk in the Snark Mancode: Exposed

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